THREsq has a story about the quick, legal trigger finger of one Lukasz "Dr. Luke" Gottwald, who apparently has produced a bunch of pop hits from the likes of Britney Spears, Katy Perry, Ke$ha, Avril Lavigne and Kelly Clarkson. It seems that lots of people online have noticed that some of the songs sound similar to other songs, and as people do these days, they've created mashups showing the similarities. Dr. Luke has decided that the best strategy to take when certain artists have spoken out publicly about their beliefs that certain songs were copied is to sue them for defamation.
Now, I actually agree with Dr. Luke that many of these accusations are crazy:
"These days, anyone can put two songs up and make a mash-up by changing the key of this one and say, 'Oh, these songs are similar.' A lot of things are similar. But you donít get sued for being similar. It needs to be the same thing. Almost doesnít count. Close but no cigar. People are suing for close. There are standard chord progressions that everyone uses. There are plenty of songs that are really similar and they never sued each other. We are a very litigious society today. You can fall on the sidewalk and sue the city."
He's right. And, of course, there are lots of highly viral YouTube videos about similar general chord progressions in a ton of songs, such as the one about Pachelbel's Canon:
And yet... as much as I agree in general that the claims of copying (or more directly, of infringement) are overblown, the fact that he goes legal first with defamation claims really seems like a strategically questionable move. All it's doing is calling that much more attention to the allegations themselves and leading more people to wonder if there is actual copying going on. He could have easily stuck with the claim that lots of songs have the same chord progression and that's not infringement.